A Few Wild Medicinals
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For tens of thousands of years our ancestors used medicinal plants and herbs to
treat illnesses, dispel parasites, and sometimes, just to feel good. During the twentieth century, pharmaceutical scientists learned to distill and duplicate the health improving compounds in many of these plants to create modern medicines. New research in the last few years has shown that often, accompanying compounds in plants enhance their effectiveness as medicinals, and new medicines for treating illness are being discovered in plants, mushrooms, and other fungi, each year...
In the 1950s, a study conducted in the old Soviet Union found that very few residents of one particular province got cancer. Additional research revealed that these people had a longstanding cultural practice of regularly drinking a certain mushroom tea, made by steeping the thin brackets of Tramates versicolor, or Turkeytail fungus, in boiling water. Extensive new studies have shown this tea to contain both tumor and cancer killing properties.
Watch for Turkeytail to appear in September and October on fallen logs. It will feel dry and papery, and is easily recognized by the horizontal bands of brown, gray, tan, white, and sometimes purple. (Note the bands in the photo above.)
The leaves of Jewelweed or Spotted Touch-Me-Not, above, are edible when picked before the plant reaches 3" in height, then boiled as greens. Full of vitamins and minerals they are delicious with a little butter and vinegar. Older, larger plants are too bitter to eat. Additionally, Jewelweed juice is effective against the itch of poison ivy. Just crush the leaves and rub on the affected areas. Coincidentally, Jewelweed and Poison Ivy often grow in the same locations, so the treatment is readily available when needed!
Witch Hazel, (in the photo, left,) has so many beneficial uses that it's hard to list them all! It is so effective at reducing inflammation that it is still used as the primary ingredient in hemorrhoid and anti-itch creams. It will reduce pimples, relieve razor burn, shrink bags under the eyes, temporarily reduce the discomfort of varicose veins, and soothe sunburn. Known by some, as "nature's answer to Neosporin," applying Witch Hazel will cleanse cuts and protect them from infection.
The Goldenrod shown above is Solidago Canadensis, or Canada Goldenrod. It grows in large stands most everywhere in the eastern United States. For hundreds of years Europeans have used various varieties of goldenrod to cure urinary tract and kidney infections. When the leaves and flowers are used to make tea the results can be spectacular, producing a strong, cleansing, urination. Herbalists and naturopaths often use Solidago viraugea as the final cure for patients who have unsuccesfully tried antibiotics to cure UTIs.
Goldenrod tea can also be used occasionally as a refreshing drink, but be sure to wash the leaves and flowers before using them. There is a toxic fungus occasionally found on this plant.
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